Hi guys,

one of the discussions we've had in BISA lately is a wish to get feedback from the cycling community on the new 'Copenhagen lane' in Sturt St, where the ACC is undergoing a trial of a separated bike lane.


While it sounds good in theory, there's been a bit of criticism floating around that there are some design issues with it, particularly in respect to cars joining from side streets.

Apparently it's been planned as a "temporary trial" by the council, where they will evaluate its success after 6 months and decide whether to remove the separating infrastructure, or possibly extend to other spots.

So, what's people's feedback - is it working out, or having problems? Is it a good concept but badly implemented? (Perhaps due to the trial nature).

(I imagine the council will also seek feedback, but as a cycling advocacy organisation we'd like to get independent comments too to inform what position we take as well).

Any pics you've taken of the lane in action would be appreciated too.

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Sorry for the late notice, but there is a public meeting tonight to discuss the Council's plans to remove the bike path and the local residents' proposal to retain a modified version of it. The meeting will be at the South West Community Centre at 171 Sturt Street at 6.30pm.

Council has had a consultation process in relation to its proposal to replace the bike lane with a painted on-road lane, behind 60 degree car parks. The consultation period has closed, but I've heard informally that Council will still take on board late submissions.

The local residents, the South West Community Network have put forward an alternative proposal that essentially retains the bike lane on the northern side, but narrows the dividing barrier, allowing for angle, rather than parallel, car parking. The proposal includes improvements to the design and signage of the intersections with side streets to improve safety. It proposes that a similar separated bike lane be built on the southern side at some time in the future.

For those who are interested I can forward relevant documents, including the Council's review of the bike path.

I remain of the opinion that a separated bike lane in Sturt Street is unnecessary and that the design and implemenation of the existing bike lane is dangerous to cyclists. A painted on-road lane is perfectly adequate. If work is to be done in Sturt Street, it should be to widen the footpaths, and improve cyclists' and pedestrian safety at Whitmore Square. I do not think that the alternative proposal put forward by the SWCN adequately deals with the safety issues, and indeed, be removing the refuge, it exacerbates safety issues in relation to people(particularly small children) crossing the bike lane to move between parked cars and the kerb.
I attended the meeting on Tuesday night. It was short and heated.

The SW Community Network put up their proposal with a twist - they proposed that the existing separated bike lane be raised to the level of the footpath. This seems to me an essential change to the current design if is going to be retained or used elsewhere. I reckon some physical impediment, such as a change in height, is going to be needed to prevent cars from whizzing across the bikelane without looking.

Even with that change to the proposal it received very little support from the floor of the meeting. Almost all there (or at least the most vocal) supported the Council's plan to pull the separated bike lane up and replace it with a painted bike lane behind angle-parked cars.

There was a great deal of anger voiced by local business owners about the bike lane. Councillor Yarwood spoke in defence of the residents' proposal to retain a modified version of the existing separated bike lane, but he did not seem to garner any support.
Stephen Yarwood has some excellent ideas on the future of Adelaide. He has announced that he will be running for Lord Mayor of Adelaide, so if you think cycling in, through or around the City of Adelaide is important, show him some support. Think globally, act locally.

Stephen Yarwood for Lord Mayor
I heard that some European countries sometimes use three heights to encourage people to differentiate between road, cycle lane and footpath.

Last week I attended some seminars by professionals during Brain Injury Awareness Week. Quote: "Europeans appalled at how we mix traffic. Set up roads with trucks next to cyclists. Should not be done. Only requires a moment of inattention."

I told her that Prospect Council had persuaded the State Government to agree to narrow arterial freight route Churchill Road. That, depending on location, if truck or bus, in the future cyclists will be passed by only 0.3 to 0.7 metres. Actually less because do not expect drivers to 'hug' the median. Government guidelines all state to leave a minimum of one metre when overtaking cyclists. She said I would not like her answer -- that in Europe cyclists would not be permitted to cycle with trucks. I told her that in Europe, there would be a concrete barrier between trucks and cyclists, but that Adelaide drivers not prepared to give up parking space.

Few vehicles park on Churchill Road. It would be an opportunity to make it no parking on this arterial road, and convert the space into raised bicycle lanes (painted green) with concrete barriers. Rather than an extended footpath with indented parking that is not used. A progressive step in preparing for alternative transport with Peak Oil and rising petrol prises. Any comments?
Regarding raised bike paths and concrete barriers, here's a pair of photos that are quite representative of actual Copenhagen bike lanes:


Many if not most cycle lanes in Copenhagen do have a kerb separating them from the road, but they don't have concrete barriers in addition to that. The equivalent of a quieter street like Sturt street might not even have a bike lane in Copenhagen, or perhaps simply a painted lane that looks very much like what we already use in Adelaide (with the big exception that cars do not park in them or cross them to enter parking spaces!). The spatial cost of a Copenhagen lane is simply the width of the lane.

Yes, fully-separated cycle lanes are the "ideal" in many respects but as far as I understand it they're also most prominent in countries like Holland that already have significant support for cycling and entrenched planning practises that help allocate that space to cycling. In an Adelaide context I think a barrier like the one used in Sturt street can be pragmatically viewed as a waste of space and parking spaces (maintaining parking spaces is likely to make business much more happy with these proposals). Increased cycling infrastructure will almost inevitably come at some cost to motorists but it doesn't need to be so gratuitous, particularly to begin with.

Copenhagen is not the outright best cycling city in the world but I think that over-all its model is most suited to building a cycling network in cities like Adelaide that do not already have a mature cycling culture. Personally I believe it could be replicated to a functional extent in large parts of Adelaide with only painted lanes, a reasonable increase in lane width on major roads, and a rearrangement of the sidewalk-bike lane-parking space relationship.

That turned in to a bit of a rant, I hope it doesn't read like an attack. I have a little chip on my shoulder about people treating European cycling infrastructure as more homogenous and rigidly defined than it is, and I think the Sturt Street lane is an example of how not adjusting to the Adelaide context could lead to expensive failures that hurt the cause of cycling here.
Hi Torbjorn,

no not a rant at all, very interesting point of view. Having travelled to Copenhagen myself and heard the city's director of traffic speak, I think you're quite on the money.

One issue I've been mulling over is the real challenge of cycling on busy 'arterial roads' in Australian cities, as lately I've had to drive on them quite a bit given the poor public transport connection to my workplace, and they're clearly a danger to cyclists as it stands. I wonder whether the better option is to consistently roll out much better bike lanes on these arterials, or alternatively in the short to medium term concentrate on improving the bike support on much quieter streets (the 'terraces' in Adelaide).

Perhaps you should consider heading along to a Bicycle Institute of SA committee meeting (http://www.bisa.asn.au/), I'm sure they'd appreciate your perspective.

cheers, Patrick.
Thanks Patrick, I will definitely try to attend that meeting.

Re: the issue of arterials - I'm still dipping my feet in to transportation and cycling infrastructure planning so I don't have a standard answer.

Instinctively I'd say that if you were to really start building a network it should focus on three things (adopted from numerous existing guidelines):
1. It should be a real network (no disappearing lanes!)
2. It should be a road that is heavily trafficked (cyclists should be protected by infrastructure on popular roads, not hidden away on indirect routes)
3. It should serve places people actually live and want to go to, and not just at the beginning and end (cycling has a huge potential to replace short car trips to the shops, movies etc. as well as the commute to work).

To me this suggests generally a focus on arterials and particularly those roads that have a strong business or service presence in addition to linking homes with workplaces. Quieter streets are the places to let road users share (preferably with reasonably low speed limits). The 'Naked Roads' concept is an extreme of this, but in general the respect for bicycles learned on busier roads seems to spread in to quieter areas in the cities that have successful bike infrastructures. How small a road can be before it requires investment is a tricky question though, of course.

I suppose I don't think there's a strict answer - you don't want to build a great arterial cycle network that's rudely interrupted by an unsafe city to ride in! I've talked a little to transport engineers and town planners before and they always mention complications that I'd never even thought about, too.

edit: not to mention that things might be quite different in say, Sydney, than they are in Adelaide.
Better planning for safer cycling needs to start somewhere. I would not mind arterial roads being fixed first. I do not cycle into the CBD every time I cycle an arterial road. There is also a difference between being hit by a truck at 60 km/h on an arterial road, and a car travelling slowly in the city due to road congestion. A difference of life and death.

Arterial and freight route Churchill Road currently allows more than 1m gap when overtaking cyclists. Roadworks are currently reducing this to less than the recommended 1m minimum. The State Government is ignoring its own guidelines in agreeing to Prospect Council plans for a State Government road.
I respectfully agree with all you've said Torbjorn. I reckon that separated bike lanes are more needed on arterials, where traffic volumes are heavy and speeds are relatively high, than in the city. Arterials that are safe for cyclists will encourage bicycle commuters. Increased numbers of cyclists should result in better driver attitudes to sharing the road.

I'm not familiar with Churchill Road, Heather, but the narrowing of a bicycle lane, particularly where there is a high volume of heavy vehicle traffic, sounds like a very bad idea.
So you get an accurate idea. Currently there are no bicycle lanes. Very few vehicles park on Churchill Road, so I can cycle close to the kerb and keep my distance from trucks. Prospect Council is extending the footpaths which will include indented car parks, when vehicles rarely parked there. So cyclists will be forced closer to trucks on this freight route. Bicycle lanes will be added, but placed so that trucks and buses overtake cyclists by less than the recommended one metre minimum. More than once Prospect Council has misled the public with words like 'safer bike lanes'.
I agree with Torbjorn, European cyclists don't live in a cycling utopia, just check out this for some fine examples: http://translate.google.com.au/translate?u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.radmeld...

However, there are some examples of things that seem to work. I spend quite a lot of time in Germany and have observed a lot of shared pedestrian/bike paths. At first I thougth this was madness but it seems to work quite well. The key to their success is courtesy between the cyclists (who generally don't wear helmets), pedestrians and drivers. Drivers seem to be more aware of cyclists, pedestrians seem tolerant of cyclists sharing the footpath and probably most importantly cyclists pay attention to both cars and pedestrians (ie they don't ride at 30km/h with their heads down, bums up and headphones in on the road or the footpath).

There is no magic bullet to building better cycling infrastructure, it requires all modes of transport to work together and it costs money that councils and governments just don't have enough of. How about raising some funds for cycling infrastructure with a bike registration levy?

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